A consultation process included indigenous Wixárika residents of the region. A consultation process for the dam included indigenous Wixárika residents of the region.

Opponents of San Luis Potosí dam project claim harassment by water officials

Community landowners are conducting a legal battle against the La Maroma dam

Opponents of a water infrastructure project in San Luis Potosí have denounced harassment and threats by federal and state water officials who wish to pressure them into withdrawing legal action against the project.

Ejidatarios, or community landowners, from La Presa in the municipality of Villa de Guadalupe filed injunction applications in agrarian courts last month aimed at stopping the La Maroma dam and aqueduct project because they say it would strip them of their historic land and water rights.

The landowners also charged that water researchers from the San Luis College (Colsan) and a legal team made up of professors and students from the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí (UASLP) have also been victims of the harassment by State Water Commission (CEA) and National Water Commission (Conagua) personnel.

Again, the landowners say, the purpose of the harassment has been to pressure them to remove their injunction requests.

If the project goes ahead, the ejidatarios said, they will be robbed of a water source that they use for irrigation, livestock and domestic purposes because it will be diverted to an industrial park in Matehuala.

They also said that CEA and Conagua representatives have threatened to charge them for the expenses incurred by the work stoppage.

In addition to the legal action, the landowners have blocked access to their land so that no machinery can enter the construction area without the express consent of agrarian authorities.

However, the landholders fear that in the coming days authorities may try to repress their opposition and restart the project. They claimed that water officials have told them they are prepared to use force to do so.

President Enrique Peña Nieto committed to build the water project during his 2012 election campaign and both private enterprise and state government agencies stand to benefit from its construction.

In contrast, the landowners say the project will harm both the region’s agriculture sector and their already precarious standard of living.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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